A few weeks ago, we lost my grandmother, Nana. Nana was an amazing grandmother and an amazing person. I feel so blessed that I was able to have her in my life for so long. Her health started declining around Christmas and rapidly went down in mid-January. I’m thankful that she did not suffer long. I’m also thankful that our big boys got to know her well and that she knew Caleb. Kevin, Caleb and I had a nice visit with her just a few days before she passed away. I’m so thankful for that.
When my grandfather passed away a few years ago, I shared his testimony in story. I wanted to do the same for Nana.
When I think about Nana, I think about music and I think about adventure. For nearly ninety
years, she followed the notes the Lord placed on her heart. Her life was a beautiful song with a
melody that will play on in the lives of all those she touched, most especially in the lives of
those who call her Mama, Nana, and friend.
Born in the warmth of summer on August 6, 1928 in Baxter Springs, Kansas, Margaret Elizabeth
was the baby of Ward and Margaret’s family. The youngest of three, she adored
her older sister, Jackie, and older brother, Jim. To hear her tell stories of her childhood was to
hear a song of love, happiness, and laughter.
Nana was a great storyteller. She told stories of how she walked home from school each day as
an elementary-aged child to have a hot lunch cooked by her mother before returning to school
for the afternoon (What an adventure that was!). She told of days spent swimming – she swam
like a fish – and of nights spent with her friends, one of which was a true Indian princess. She
recited stories from the Bible and made them come alive. My favorite was always the story of
Eli and Samuel. I loved to hear her say the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is
listening.” When I think about those words today, I think of Nana. She was always eager to
listen to the Lord’s voice and follow where He led her.
After graduating from high school, she felt called into mission work. She moved away from
home to Oklahoma Baptist University where she studied music and was in an international
music fraternity. She once again listened to the Lord’s leading in her life and served as a
summer missionary during the summers of her college years. During this time, she used her
talents in music to minister to children. I have no doubt that she taught them about God’s grace
and forgiveness through the grace and love she was always quick to extend to others. She also
shared with them God’s love through song, and in particular, “Jesus Loves Me.” Through the
years, I imagine she shared those sweet words “Si, Cristo me ama / Si, Cristo me ama / Si, Cristo
me ama / La Biblia dice asi” (“Yes, Jesus loves me / Yes, Jesus loves me / Yes, Jesus loves me /
The Bible tells me so”) with hundreds of children, myself and my sister included.
Shortly after graduating from college, she went on another adventure. This time, she moved to
Fort Worth, Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for graduate school. It
was in Fort Worth that she met a young, sweet, and funny man from Conway, South Carolina.
They fell head over heels in love and married on November 28, 1952 in First Baptist Church,
Nana and Bruce Hall began their life together in Texas before taking on another adventure.
Once again, Nana (and Bruce Hall) listened for the still, small voice of the Lord and heard His
call. This time, their adventure would be to Aynor, South Carolina, where he was called to
pastor his first church.
A few years after moving to South Carolina, another adventure began. This time, they became
parents to their baby girl, my mom. Being a mother (and later a grandmother) was one of the
greatest joys of Nana’s life. She instilled in my mom, my sister, and me a love for the Lord, life,
family, and fun. She taught us all so many things through her gentle and kind spirit. I find myself
repeating some of the sayings she always said to us to my children today. She didn’t just say
“Pretty is as pretty does” or “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” she lived
it. She did not ever speak ill of anyone. In fact, I can’t remember a time that she ever raised her
voice, despite plenty of occasions that I’m sure more than warranted it.
In 1957, Nana and Bruce Hall moved to Pamplico as he was called to preach at Mt. Zion Baptist
Church. Pamplico would become their home for the rest of their lives. They loved their church,
their family, and their friends, and each poured their hearts into this ministry the Lord called
them to. They were faithful to Him, and He was faithful to them. “Great is They faithfulness O
God my Father / There is no shadow of turning with Thee / Thou changest not, Thy compassions,
they fail not / As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.”
Nana taught piano, organ, and voice to numerous students throughout the years in addition to
her work as Minister of Music at Mt. Zion. At Mt. Zion, she directed the adult choir, began the
Mt. Zion Ringers handbell choir, and directed children and youth choirs including the One Way
Singers. It was through music that she shared the life-changing forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now
am found, was blind, but now, I see.”
Her life was a beautiful song that will sing on for years to come. She allowed the Lord to write
the notes and became an instrument He was able to use to draw others to Him. When I think of
her legacy, I think of the foundation of faith upon which she built her life. “How firm a
foundation, ye saints of the Lord / Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! / What more can
He say than to you He hath said / Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”
What a privilege it was to know her, love her, and be loved by her! She taught us all so much
through the way she lived her life and shared most importantly about faith and family. While
our hearts ache, we rejoice knowing that she is with our Savior Jesus Christ and has been
reunited with our Bruce Hall. She’s realized everything she lived and hoped for, and she’s joined
the heavenly chorus and is signing with the angels “Holy is the Lord, God Almighty!”
February 22, 2018